‘Thirty-day break of your car feels a lot better’

Thirty days without using your car. Quite a challenge. But is it feasible? The Belgian Network for Sustainable Mobility urges to give it a try. The goal of the ’30 Dagen Minder Wagen’ campaign is to change our travel habits and experiment (more) with more sustainable mobility solutions.

The initiators hope to motivate people to put aside their cars during the month of June. “A car-free month means more adventure and a healthier spirit,” they say. “Besides, with the peaking fuel prices, giving your car some time off is absolutely a good idea.”

Tips & tricks

During the campaign, the organizers provide you with tips and tricks, new routes, and practical apps to simplify your daily trips. Several mobility providers participate in the project: public transport companies NMBS/SNCB and De Lijn, and shared transport platforms like Cambio, Blue Bikes, and 020.

Researchers of the VUB research group Mobilise will organize surveys during the challenge to analyze how people live through their car-free experience. Each participant will be invited to fill in three surveys: one before, during, and after the experiment. All information will be gathered and lead to policy recommendations to ease life without owning a car.

Car standing still 95% of the time

Figures from Statbel, the Belgian office for statistics, show that on August 1st, 2021, Belgium had almost six million registered passenger cars, and this number increases year after year. However, personal cars are standing still almost 95% of the time,” says Cathy Macharis, professor of mobility at the VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), and leading the experiment.

According to figures from the Department of Mobility and Public Works, Flemish citizens move twice a day (2,4 times) on average and mainly (65%) by car. More than half (52%) of these ‘micro trips’ (5 km or less) happen by car, while the majority of those trips can easily be done by bike or on foot.

Freedom

Practice what you preach, Cathy Macharis must have thought in November 2021 when she decided to move her electric car aside and opt for alternative transport. Since that decision, she walks more and feels more relaxed and free. She uses a bike for commuting and a train or shared car if necessary.

“We all know Car-free Sundays, but that’s not enough to grow out of a habit,” Macharis says. “We need more time to organize our life differently.” The campaign officially ends by the end of June, but the initiators of ’30 Dagen Minder Wagen’ hope to have a permanent impact on Flanders.

 

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